Cubs

Volstad claimed as Cubs continue to clean house

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Volstad claimed as Cubs continue to clean house

The Royals claimed Chris Volstad off waivers on Friday, ending the big hopes the Cubs had when they acquired him last winter.

The big right-hander was claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals Friday afternoon.

Volstad, a former first-round pick of the Marlins, came over in the deal that sent Carlos Zambrano to South Beach. The 6-foot-8 starter never put it together with the Cubs, enduring a 24-start winless streak that began late in 2011 with the Marlins and was finally snapped Aug. 26 at Wrigley Field.

Volstad spent time in Triple-A Iowa in 2012 and was in manager Dale Sveum's doghouse for much of the season after failing to stick to the gameplan. In 21 starts for the big-league club, he compiled a 3-12 record with a 6.31 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

The Cubs made a flurry of other moves Friday, clearing room on the 40-man roster by outrighting four more players -- Joe Mather, Manny Corpas, Justin Germano and Blake Parker -- to Triple-A Iowa.

Corpas elected free agency while Parker was removed from the 60-man roster before being outrighted.

Mather -- dubbed "Super Joe" by manager Dale Sveum in May -- won a utility spot with a strong spring and his versatility helped the 30-year-old journeyman notch 225 at-bats. He struggled at the plate, hitting just .209.256.324 despite a strong start, which included a seven-game stint as the team's No. 3 hitter.

Corpas burst onto the scene in 2007 as the Rockies' closer, saving 19 games with a 2.08 ERA, but his career has been derailed since with ineffectiveness and injury. He missed all of 2011 to Tommy John surgery and the Cubs took a chance on the 29-year-old reliever last winter. Corpas finished the year with a 5.01 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 48 games.

Germano was claimed off waivers mid-season from the Red Sox and was inserted into the starting rotation shortly after, replacing the injured Matt Garza. Germano, a 30-year-old righty, compiled a 2-10 record with a 6.75 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 13 games for the Cubs, including 12 starts.

These moves come a day after the Cubs outrighted four other players, marking 10 players removed from the 40-man roster in the last couple of days.

Matt Carpenter giving the Cubs Daniel Murphy PTSD

Matt Carpenter giving the Cubs Daniel Murphy PTSD

Say the name Daniel Murphy around Cubs fans (who have been around since before they won the 2016 World Series) and expect a dirty look or shade of some sort.

What Murphy did to the Cubs in the 2015 National League Championship Series still haunts the fanbase, even if they did end the championship drought the following fall.

Now, the Cubs are seeing it again and their PTSD is in overdrive.

St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter has been on an unreal tear of late, setting Cardinals franchise records in the process.

Throughout this five-game series at Wrigley Field, Carpenter is 9-for-16 with 6 homers, 10 RBI, 8 runs scored, 3 walks, a pair of doubles and a bunt single to lead off Sunday's game against the Cubs' shift.

"We're seeing this guy probably at his best moment in his life as a baseball player," Joe Maddon said. "My god. We saw it a couple years ago in the playoffs. We're seeing it all over again.

"Similar kind of a swing, not missing anything. It's pretty impressive."

In that 2015 NLCS, Murphy — then with the New York Mets — homered in all 4 games while hitting .529 with a 1.850 OPS, driving in 6 and scoring 6. 

To put that in perspective: The Cubs scored only 8 runs as a team in the 4 games.

Maddon and the Cubs don't know what to do to get Carpenter out right now, so they've resorted to walking him whenever possible, like in the second inning Sunday when they just dealt out a free pass to the Cardinals infielder with runners on second and third and two outs.

They also tried out a funky shift in the seventh inning Sunday, with Kris Bryant as a fourth outfielder in left-center, Addison Russell as the only defender on the left side of the infield and Javy Baez playing on the grass in shallow right field. It worked, as Carpenter grounded it to Baez for a routine out.

Beyond that, all the Cubs can do is hope time eventually wears Carpenter down. After all, nobody can stay this hot forever.

Even though Carpenter and the Cardinals are leaving town after Sunday's game, these two team square off against each other again next weekend for the final series in St. Louis.

"For them, it's a blast to watch," Maddon said. "Give the guy credit. What he's working right now is unique. The last time I saw it was Daniel Murphy. 

"Before that, I think, was Barry Bonds in the World Series in 2002. Playoffs with Murphy a couple years ago, where the guy — every pitch that is thrown — he's on time, he's on balance with a forceful swing that looks like the ball can go out of the ballpark every time. Bonds, Murphy and now him."

That's some serious company to be in.

So what's led to this insane stretch from Carpenter?

Maybe it's the salsa.

When told about that theory, Maddon laughed and said:

"Listen, that makes total sense to me. Can he send a jar over here, please?"

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

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USA TODAY

Training Camp Daily: Defense still “picking” on Bears QB’s in rainy practices

Training Camp Daily: The Bears put the pads on for Sunday's practice on another wet day in Bourbonnais. Bears insider John 'Moon' Mullin & producer Paul Aspan discuss Mitchell Trubisky's accuracy, which continues to be a work in progress. Plus Anthony Miller & Kevin White turn heads, while Aaron Lynch suffers yet another injury setback when the Bears are already thin at pass rusher. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: